Phillip Glenn, Elizabeth Holt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


Human laughter has long been a subject of scholarly interest, but counter to commonly held assumptions, extensive language and social interaction research has documented its orderly, systematic role in interactions. Nonverbal but closely linked to language use, laughter does far more than merely respond to humor. The length, acoustic shape, and placement of laughs vary systematically and contribute to ongoing courses of action. Laughs treat prior or simultaneous actions as laughable and in turn make certain next moves relevant, such as second laughs. Laughter's ambiguity makes it versatile: through laughter, people may affiliate with their interlocutors but laughs may also display resistance to what is going on. Laughter can modify a speaker's stance toward what is said, and thereby may serve as a resource for managing delicate actions such as complaining. Through laughing, people constitute and shape roles (such as interviewer), identities (such as gender), and relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction
EditorsKaren Tracy, Cornelia Ilie, Todd Sandel
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781118611463
ISBN (Print)9781118611104
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Publication series

NameThe Wiley Blackwell-ICA International Encyclopedias of Communication
PublisherWiley Blackwell


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